This week we flipped the calendar to November and officially entered the holiday season. Although this time of the year brings excitement and warmth, it also brings social calendars packed with a myriad of events, most of which include eating (and more eating)! But don’t let your seemingly endless “to do” list force you to fall into the holiday gluttony trap. With some careful planning, you can easily eat, drink, and be merry while still maintaining your weight.
1. Eat before you go. Don’t forgo eating during the day so you can pig out at your holiday event later. Instead, eat smaller portions and choose lower calorie, nutrient dense foods during the day. Also, have a small snack before attending the event. This makes it easier to control portions at the party, but still leaves room for enjoying the holiday foods.
2. Plan ahead. At buffets, scope out the food choices before filling your plate. Decide which items are your “must haves” and select these items in small amounts. Then load the rest of your plate with healthy veggies, such as steamed green beans. Once your plate is full, move to another room, away from the food, and enjoy.
3. Bring a pot luck dish. When attending a holiday gathering, don’t feel bashful about bringing your own healthy dish. By bringing a healthy item, you can enjoy it guilt free.
4. Have a game plan. Go to the holiday party with a plan for what and how much you will eat and drink and stick to it. Planning ahead will make it easier to avoid “grazing,” overeating, and over-drinking.
5. Trick your mind. Choose to use smaller plates and utensils when eating. It takes less food to fill up a smaller plate, which means you’ll be eating less. And use of smaller utensils forces you to take smaller bites, slowing down eating.
6. Slow down. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that it’s full, so remember to eat slowly. By eating slower, you’ll be able to really savor each bite and are guaranteed to feel fuller while eating less food.
7. Drink wisely. Traditional holiday drinks can be a dieter’s disaster; one 8 oz. cup of egg nog packs a heafty 350 calories and 20 grams of fat! Choose lighter, non-creamy drinks, such as apple cider, which contains only 120 calories and 0 grams fat per cup.
8. Drink in moderation. Alcohol can lower resistance, which can cause you to eat more than anticipated. Moderate drinking is considered 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
9. Exercise. To help maintain your weight, don’t forget to exercise. Each holiday is one day, which is no excuse to take the month off from working out. Feeling strapped for time? Exercising three times a day for 10 minutes at a time provides the same health benefits as exercising for 30 minutes all at once. And remember, some activity is better than none.
10. Enjoy friends and family. Holidays aren’t just about the food; they’re about the company as well. Spend time chatting with friends and family. Not only will you catch up with your loved ones, but you’ll slow down the pace of eating in the process.